Demand for IT staff holding steady: recruiter

Next year should see steady demand for IT job-seekers, although things may not be as busy as this year.

That’s the view of Steve Gillingwater, head of recruitment firm Robert Walters’ IT division.

Gillingwater says a recent decision by a major telecommunications carrier to reduce the number of contractors on its books means demand for telecomms contractors has been lessened.

“There are a lot of telco contractors on the market, which means demand for them won’t be so great, especially at this time of year” he says.

In other areas, however, demand for skilled candidates continues to be strong.

“There will be a bit of spending next year — some of our clients are talking about implementing ERP systems,” he says. “For example, Vodafone is standardising worldwide to SAP.”

Many companies’ ERP systems are nearing the end of their lives and need upgrading, he says. Work on ERP systems will likely provide a flow-on demand for infrastructure upgrades, providing more IT work. In addition, some clients plan to upgrade legacy systems next year, Gillingwater says.

Another factor that may generate more IT work next year is a move towards bringing business-critical systems back in-house, reversing the trend towards outsourcing.

“Many companies are looking at insourcing — it’s a trend being mentioned by CIOs,” he says

“That will stimulate demand for IT skills.”

Gillingwater also sees steady demand for developers, especially in the .Net, C# and Java fields.

“A lot of companies are focusing on getting smarter online — it’s cost-savings driven.”

An example of a development-driven project that has delivered lower costs and improved business processes is Air New Zealand’s recent RFID ticketing project, he says.

The project, (Computerworld, November 3) involves installing fully automated self-service check-in kiosks at airports, which can be used by passengers whose identity is confirmed via RFID tags on their mobile phone. The project will also provide more information and options for Air New Zealand customers online.

“There’s demand for smart technology and extracting cost-savings through utilisation of it,” Gillingwater says. Similarly, resource-reducing technologies such as virtualisation and Citrix are in high demand, with more and more companies looking at minimising costs through reducing hardware spending.

The focus on cost- and equipment-savings through smart use of IT is a sign that organisations are seeing IT as a business enabler, Gillingwater says.

While demand for skilled IT staff will continue next year, there’s little sign of the skills shortage that has plagued the IT hiring scene in recent times abating, he says.

“We’re still relying heavily on international talent — every quarter, we go to the UK with a shopping list for clients.”

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